Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball — Memoirs

maple leafs baseball

My son asked me to write a memoir-type of post regarding my earliest recollections of watching baseball.  To accommodate this request we have to go back to circa-1955. I would have been seven years old at the time.

As you read, take into account that I have done no research to determine if the facts are correct. These are my memories only, stemming from the mid-fifties and manifesting themselves here in 2007.

My interest in baseball, I am sure, came from my father who constantly listened to the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team of the International League broadcasts over AM radio 590 CKEY (now the FAN) in Toronto and their cross-lake rivals the Buffalo Bisons on 55 WGR.

Toronto Maple Leafs Mustache

The Toronto play-by-play tandem consisted of Joe Chrysdale and Hal Kelly. Kelly was the older brother of Dan Kelly, who went on to become a famous hockey play-by play commentator for CBC and later the voice of the St. Louis Blues. Dan was also behind the mike when Mario Lemieux scored the winning goal for Team Canada against the USSR in the 1987 Canada Cup.

Bill Mazur was the voice of the Buffalo Bisons and he became a somewhat noted hockey announcer in the U.S. during the NHL’s earliest attempts at gaining a hockey foothold south of the border. He probably worked for CBS.

But I digress.

So from these beginnings my interest in “rounders” was born. My father was not athletic in any sense, and if I were to describe his interest in sports, it was truly only as a fan. He was your typical homer fan. When his team lost, it was because they were a bunch of bums and the umpires or referees cheated the home team. He never seemed to enjoy the games because of the paranoia he felt regarding the officials and the dread of the home side letting him down. There was no objectivity at all. No analysis. Just the opportunity to gloat over the fact that his team had beaten the opposition.  Otherwise he would bemoan the fact that his team lost.

Maple Leaf Baseball

The first World Series I recall was the 1955 Classic between the Dodgers and Yankees. Three Dodgers stick out in mind from that Series and for no particular reason other than the fact they were Roy Campanella, Charlie Neal and Johnny Podres. I also recall Don Newcombe, Gil Hodges and Peewee Reese. But I don’t remember Jackie Robinson or Duke Snider. For the Yankees, I guess it was my first introduction to Mantle, Berra and Elston Howard. Elston Howard was a link back to the Toronto Maple Leafs as he was their catcher 1954.

My first visit to a professional baseball game was somewhat unique in that rather than just being a single game, it was in fact a triple-header. I am not sure if this was in ’55 or ’56 but it was on a Labour Day Monday

I attended, as with most youngsters, these games with my father. I remember going to the games on the streetcars since my Dad did not have a car at that time.

We got off the Bathurst (Exhibition) streetcar right in front of venerable old Maple Leaf Stadium. It was located at the foot of Bathurst Street in an awkward intersection with Fleet Street and what turns into the now present-day Queen’s Quay. It was a large stadium for a minor league park with a seating capacity in the neighbourhood of 20,000. The location is now occupied by townhouses, but the one remnant of the area is the street that surrounds the complex – Stadium Road.

Maple Leaf Stadium

maple leaf stadium

Maple Leaf Stadium

The International League season in those days ended on the weekend following Labour Day, and typically the Leafs were in a dogfight for the pennant.

It was a cool overcast and misty day as I recall and the reason it was a triple-header was that the schedule had originally called for a standard double-header – a nine-inning opener and a seven-inning nightcap. However, in Toronto, (and again I always have to go back to “in those days”) they had what was called the Sunday Blue Laws. In short, nobody was supposed to have fun on Sundays. Games on Sunday would start at 1:30 but no pitch could be thrown after 6:00 pm.

So on this particular Sunday, the curfew came and the rules stated that the game had to be completed immediately before the start of the next scheduled game between the two teams. That was on the Monday. Therefore Monday’s activities consisted of the completion of the suspended game followed by the regularly scheduled double-header.

As fate would have it, the home nine lost all three games and fell out of pennant contention.

I don’t recall anything about those first games and I could not even remember any of the players. When it comes to the players, all I can offer up are names that may have appeared that day. In other words, here is a list of my first recollections of Toronto Maple Leafs:

The catchers were Ebba St. Claire and “Tim” Thompson.

ebba st. claireCharley Tim Thompson

Joe Chrysdale, every now and then, would give us Tim Thompson’s full name as Charles Lebanon Thompson. Why do players with the name of Tim not use their real names (I refer you to our beloved Tim Horton whose real name was Miles Gilbert).

joe chrysdale
Joe Chrysdale

At First base was Rocky Nelson. Rocky went on to play for other teams in the International League and had a fairly solid Major League career with Pittsburgh. He took part in Harvey Haddix’s pitching gem and won a World Series thanks to Bill Mazeroski’s dramatic Home run.

rocky nelson

The second baseman was Mike Goliat. He was a career minor leaguer but was part of the Philadelphia Phillies whiz kids who won the NL pennant in 1950.

mike goliatmike goliat

The shortstop was Hector Rodriguez. Don’t know much about him although I remember him as a crowd favourite. He played one season in the majors.

Hector Rodriguez

At third base there were two players who come to mind. One was Stan Jok from Buffalo N.Y., and the other was a career minor-leaguer as well.  His name was Steve Demeter. Demeter had his biggest success with the Rochester Red Wings and is one of their honoured players.

stan joksteve demeter

In the outfield, there was a fellow by the name of Archie Wilson who played left field. The centre-fielder was Sam Jethroe who, besides being one of the earliest black players in the Majors, was also Rookie of the Year in 1950. The right-fielder was a longtime Maple Leaf Lew Morton. He had been with the Leafs for so long they even had a special day for him.

Archie WilsonSam JethroeLew Morton

The pitchers that come to mind had some strange names. There was Lynn Lovenguth who had a cup of coffee in the majors. There were two pitchers name Johnson. One was Don and the other’s name was Connie. Being a kid I thought it weird for a pitcher to have a girls first name. The big relief pitcher was Bobby Tiefenauer. He also pitched in the majors for a long time. He came with the moniker “Tief for Relief”

Lynn LovenguthDon JohnsonConnie Johnsonbob tiefenauer

The first Manager I recall was Luke Sewell, a catcher in the majors as well as a player-manager for the St. Louis Browns. The coach was Bruno Betzel. Another manager I recall was multiple time all star in the majors Dixie Walker who had a brother who also managed in the majors  – Harry “the Hat” Walker.

luke sewellBruno Betzeldixie walker

Those are the names I will call as my first-recollection all-star team.

Next up: The Havana Cuba Sugar Kings

George “Sparky” Anderson

Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball



Handlebar Hank
Handlebar Hank





Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto archives.

Written By

  • Genius article, Daperman. I can’t wait to read about the Havana Sugar Kings.

  • Daperman, in 1955 & on, were their any Maple Leafs that you think could have performed at a high level in the MLB? By this I mean players that never made the show or players that lasted a year or two longer in the minors than they should have.

  • Ian Ross

    Maple Leaf Stadium:
    Did the Toronto Rifles play at Maple Leaf Stadium or Varsity Stadium?
    Ian Ross

    • George

      Both – Maple Leaf Stadium first and then Varsity.

    • kevin harris

      tom wilkinson was the quaterback when the rifles played at maple leaf staduim, what a great park that was back then

    • Peter Moroney

      They played at both. 1965 & 1966 @ the ballpark. Moved to Varsity in 1967 but folded early that season. I have a programmme from the last home game vs Orlando Panthers. Their QB was Don Jonas, later an Argo.

  • Dave

    I was at alot of games in late 50′ & 60’….use to sit behind visiting team dugout…i liked Rockey Nelson & Jim King & Sparky Anderson…i collected a Photo Albim from a game in was handed out by Shoppsy’s…it was called …Shopsy’s Maple Leaf Player Photo Album…it had 13 pictures (Cards) in was autograph day that day & i got to go on the field & get autographs from the players…they are in the album…i’m interestd in getting a price for this album if anyone can help me…its also for sale..its 48 years old time flys…if someone can help..please email me &…,,name is Dave

    • Michael Pittana

      Who wore # 26 on the team?
      It’s featured in the Ebbets replica jersey website with that number on itand a group of guys are all uncertian as to whose jersey is was.

      • Terence Scantlebury

        Pat Scantlebury Wore #26 for the Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Terence Scantlebury

    My Father pitched with the Toronto Maple Leafs. H e was a team mate of George Sparky Anderson, Timmy Thompsons, Joe Hanna, Frank Funk, Al Cicotte, I could go on.

  • Al Craig

    Hello Terence

    I had many opportunities to see you Dad pitch for the Leafs. He was quite the competitor and in 1960 he was part of one of the great pro pitching staffs ever. The team had 100 wins and 32 of them were shutouts! This all brings back wonderful memories for me! Drop me an email if you’d like to talk more.


  • Gordon Shank

    On August the 9th, 1958 my Dad took me to see the Leafs play the Miami Marlins at the old Toronto Stadium. Satchel Paige was a member of that Miami team but unfortunately for me had been suspended two weeks earlier for having disappeared. Newspaper reports suggested he had gone fishing to parts unknown.

    However that day I did see Pat Scantlebury pitch. This was the year Rocky Nelson won the Triple Crown and Scantlebury was a key pitcher. The game got exciting when Toronto homered early but the very next player up, shortstop Bobby Johnson was intentionally hit by a pitch in retaliation. Apparently the League President has declared earlier in the season this action should have resulted in an automatic ejection but for whatever reason the umpire did not even warn their pitcher or both benches.

    Later in the game Poncho Herrera hit a home run for Miami. Scantlebury was still on the mound and being the veteran he was made sure that the very next hitter Forrest “Woody” Smith got one high and tight. Again there was no warning but both benches all stood at the railing of their respective dugouts and were yelling pretty good at each other.

    On the next pitch to Smith he swung and intentionally let the bat fly out of his hands helicoptering out at Scantlebury. Pat jumped in order to avoid being hit. I recently exchanged emails with Toronto catcher Joe Hannah who described the action as follows:

    ” Yes I remember that baseball game with Miami. Pat went to get the bat which was behind the mound. The other team thinking because he had the bat in his hand – that he was going to use it. So their entire team rushed the mound! To defend himself Pat warned them off by swinging and flipping the bat around. Chuck Essegian a great quarterback for Stanford, charged Pat and Pat hit him with the bat on the thighs. It was a huge pileup and lasted for several minutes.

    It ended up over on 3rd base foul territory. By the time all the players were off, Chuck was astride Pat and was getting ready to pound his face. I couldn’t take that! So I yelled at Chuck and told him I wasn’t fighting – I just wanted to end the fight. Then I knocked him off Pat with my shoulder. The fight was ended – and Pat, Chuck, Woody and me were kicked out of the game. Each fined $50.00.”


  • Jerry Farrell

    I would go to sleep at night hearing Joe Crysdale & Hal Kelly describing the game.
    I have seats from ML Stadium on my back deck.
    I met Sam Jethroe and he said if I was ever in Erie PA to drop into his Bar. I did on 3 occasions and have autographs from him.
    I spent many Sundays at ML Stadium.
    My brother and 2 cousins would get a ride from my father and he would pick us up after the game.
    I would say that from 1956 to the closing of ML Stadiumin the late 60’s I saw at least 100 games.

    A few years ago an older friend of mineshowed me home plate from ML Stadium that he went and got when they were tearing it down.

  • Terry Proctor

    The second game I saw for my hometown Rochester Red Wings was in 1959 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I saw the Leafs play many times until they left after 1967.

    I almost saw a game at Maple Leaf Stadium. My parents, my aunt and uncle and I were vacationing in Toronto. We stayed at a “tourist home” on Lake Shore Blvd. I wanted to go to the game but the adults didn’t so that ended that. When I became old enough to visit TO by myself the baseball Leafs and the stadium were gone.

    The Blue Jays should have ponied up a few bucks and bought the naming rights from Jack Dominico. After all, the Leaf baseball team was using the name before the hockey club was a gleam in Major Conn Smythe’s eye.

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  • Bill A.

    WOW!!! A page of history related to my upbringing. Listened to 590 CKEY with my dad and older brother in the early 50s. (Owned then by Jack Kent Cooke, who at the time also owned Libery magazine.) My dad told me that Joe Crysdale and Hal Kelly were NOT at the away games, and did the games by ticker tape putting in the sound of the bat, cheers etc. I couldn’t believe the recreation.

    Mazur was the ulitmate “homer” announcer…….Luke Easter being the big first baseman at one point.

    Maple Leaf Stadium (Handle Bar Hank on the outside.) was the first pro stadium I was in. It was a big deal when dad would ask for long distance from Guelph and get the operator to connect to LIberty 6-5611 and get tickets in Blue R2 or R3 along the first base line. ($1.25??)

    Great memories and thanks to Shopsy’s, Cabinet Cigars, Charles Abel Photo Finishing,Tip Top Tailors et al. for sponsoring these games. Joe and Hal were great!!!!!! I remain today an ardent baseball fan thanks in many parts to them.


    Remember Joe Becker as one manager, but never my favourite. “Fireman” Ray Shore (sp?) the closer. Could go on and on!!! Sexy(?) mattress ad out in LF……..

  • Casey kazlauskas

    In the 1950’s, when I was growing up in Toronto, I remember buying the 50 cent or so general admission tickets and then eventually sneaking down closer to the field. Mike Goliat was my favorite slugger and I once saw Satchell Paige pitch a few innings-but I think it was an exhibition event. I remember Hank Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves winning their game against the International League all-stars. During batting practice, Aaron hit ball after ball out of the park. During the game, I remember that he homered at least once. The song that played over and over again for about two years at Maple Leaf stadium was Wayward Wind by Gogi Grant. Good memories!

  • Mike Horgan

    Thanks for the memories. The names that I remember: Billy de Mars;Frank Funk;Carl Sawatski; Elston Howard; BobTiefenauer;Rocky Nelson; Mike Goliat; Lou Morton; Thompson (was it Jim or Tim).

    Loved Hal Kelly and Joe Crysdale’s broadcasts and it was only years later I learned that they did the out of town games from the teletype feed and recreated everything else in the studio. Wonderful theatre.

  • Charlie Payne

    Looking for a player roster from 1885 to 1910.My grandfather played during that time frame

    • Stan Corbett

      For Charlie Payne: See if you can find the book “Baseball’s Back In Town” published in 1977. Your grandfather’s name could be on one of the early pictures of the old Toronto Maple Leafs.
      Put his name down on this website and perhaps someone will see it in that book.

  • Roy McKinley

    It’s Jult 1/10 I’ve just watched some of Ken Burns history of baseball bringing back fond memorys of Maple Leaf Stadium & spending many hours there beginning @ 12 yrs.old – I sold shopsy hot dogs in the 50’s with my boyhood friend Earl Linzon – we always wanted to work in the bleachers as many of the fans would bet on every pitch & we would sell out your load quickly however it was almost impossible to sell Maple leaf weiners in that section – my heros were Lou Morton & Rocky Nelson I think it was Rocky Nelson who used to wiggle his bum at the plate – been an avid baseball fan every since

  • Stan Corbett

    There was a book published in 1977 called “Baseball’s Back In Town”. It gave the history of baseball in Toronto along with stories about the different eras and the names of many players. As well, it had the first Toronto Blue Jays team roster.

  • John Mullen

    I remember my uncle used to take me as a kid to the stadium on Fathers Day and get a free baseball bat. Probably would not work today. To Mike Horgan, I believe it was Tim Thompson. And how about pitcher Lefty Riverboat Smith. Was he not announced as being smooth as a riverboat gambler?

  • Mike

    Where did you get that photo of Leon Day and Charlie White? That is the first photo I’ve seen of Leon from Toronto.

    Does anyone remember Gonzalo “Cholly” Naranjo from Columbus?

  • Gary Watters

    I was 9 years old and my Dad took me to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play on a Sunday afternoon. I became a Red Sox fan on that day as future Red Sox players Joe Foy / Russ Gibson / Tony Horton all played for the Leafs and they were managed by Dick Williams. I only went to that one game however I will never forget the feeling of being in that stadium.

  • Diane

    is there anyone on this site who could help me identify a Maple Leaf player from a photo?
    This was taken in the late 60’s

    • Fred

      Diane, if I could see the picture, I think I could help you. I went to practically every game between 1955 and 1967

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  • Norm

    Does anyone remember a first baseman for Toronto called Ed Stevens. I have recollection that he hosted a country music program on CKEY on Sunday afternoons in the fall-winter of 1955-56. Can anyone confirm that?

  • Fred

    I remember Ed Stevens radio show, but I believe it was on Saturday mornings on CKEY. I think it was about 1952 or 1953. I also remember when Satchell Paige came to town the first time with Miami. Jack Kent Cooke put a rocking chair in the bullpen for him. I have a copy of “Baseball’s Back In Town” Very good reading. Does anyone remember the hole in the sign in right field for Stoney’s used cars? If a player could hit a ball through it, he would get a used car.

    • nancy j.

      Cool that you remember the Stoney’s sign – Stoney was my dad. Although I think he would have loved to have been able to give away cars, I’m pretty sure it was a cheque ($100 rings a bell) if a player hit the sign. I think maybe the cheque was bigger if the ball went through the hole? I’ll have to ask family and find out for sure. 🙂

  • KB

    Many many fond memories–father used to take me to the Sunday double headers.My parents always let meskip school for Opening Day. Favorite players were Rocky Nelson and Jackie Waters (CF) . Also visiting players like Pancho Herarra who played 1st Base for Havana Sugar Kings.When I was about 15 I caddied for Charlie Dressen at the Pro-Am Day for the Ontario Open at Mississauga G&CC -also in the fouresome was Red Sullivan Captain of the NHL NY Rangers. The old stadium was great, as you were so close to the action. Also a fond memory was that the hallway from the Leafs dugout to their dressing room was lined with wire mesh fencing so we could always see the players close up !

  • don shebib

    I first went to Maple Leaf stadium in 1952 when i was in highschool. Later I pitched in the city PLAYGROUND league. It was very good sandlot baseball and when you got to the Junior level, you got to play in ML stadium when the Leafes were on the road. It was quite a thrill pitching in the ballpark when I was 18, and my fastball seemed to EXPLODE in the catcher’s mitt as the sound of it reverberated around the empty ball park.

  • don shebib

    I also remember being at the ball park in 1958, when the leafs came from behind to tie the game(Rochester Red Wings) in the bottom of the ninth. In the bottom of the 13th, SAM JETHROE tried to score from first on a single and he would have made it, except when he rounded third, clearly about to get in on time, the BAG came off it’s spikes and SAM slipped, and then was thrown out, but he would have made it had the bag held. The Leafs lost in the 14th!!!

  • Jason Craft

    My grandfather was a bat boy for the Leafs in 1929. Just wondering if anyone knows of any records or photographs that may exist of the bat boys around that time period. Thank you!

  • Fred

    Check out the book “Baseball’s Back In Town”. Might be a reference in there. It has a history of the Maple Leafs going back into the 1800’s.

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  • Bob Livingstone

    What wonderful memories. I also used to be a regular at “Hank’s Hangout” in the mid 1950’s.
    A lot of the names I knew by heart came flooding back while reading this account.
    During the late season it used to get very cold down by the lake but we managed to stick it out right to the 11 oclock curfew sometimes.
    I was privileged to watch the legendary Satchel Page pitch from the Maple Leaf bullpen when he was a Leaf for awhile. He was getting on in years but he could smoke them in. And who could ever forget that batting stance of Rocky Nelson. He looked like he was backing into a rocking chair but when he saw one he liked he could nearly hit the ships going through the Western gap.
    Thank you so much for giving us this trip back to that Field of Dreams.

    Bob Livingstone

  • Bob Livingstone

    Satchel Page pitched for a short time with the Leafs. What a treat to see a legend at work.
    Rocky Nelson’s stance was something to behold.
    Thanks for the great memories.
    I practically lived at M L Stadium in the mid fifties.

    Bob Livingstone

    • Fred

      Bob. I was looking at Satchell’s pitching record in the minors. All I saw was that he pitched for Miami for 3 years and for Portland a few years later. I don’t remember him playing for Toronto. Did I miss something? He certainly was ageless as he was pitching into his 50’s while playing for Miami.

      • Bob Livingstone

        Yes Fred, I stand very much corrected. I realized after I posted my thoughts that I was in error. Satchel was with Miami when he came as a visitor to MLS and they put a big easy chair in the visitors dug out for him. The grey matter plays tricks with us as we grow older. But what a thrill just watching him pitch. His high leg kick was beautiful to watch. Wouldn’t it have been great to watch him and Buck O.Neill in one of their games in the colored league? Buck spoke about it in Burn’s Baseball series and I could almost hear the “splat” when the ball hit the catcher’s mitt.
        What treasured memories from those great days.
        One other point I meant to bring out was the away game broadcasts on CKEY with the Bisons. I loved listening to the live play on WGR (I think) then when the leafs made a great hit, quickly turning over to CKEY and listening to Joe Crysdale add the color as he read the teletype feed coming in. You would swear he was right there in the press box.

        • Fred

          I was at the game when Satchell made his appearance at MLS. Seems to me, it was a rocking chair wasn’t it? I always sat on the third base side behind the home dugout in the upper level. Jack Kent Cooke always had an entertaining team. In fact the whole league was entertaing.

  • Terry Skelton

    Reading here, I am moved to throw in a bit, if I may.

    I too recall going to bed at 9 and tuning in to CKEY 580 when there’d be news for 10 minutes, then 5 minutes of the Benson and Hedges’ Humidor with Hal Kelly, where he’d talk about the team with a coach or player or maybe Neil McCarl, maybe discuss the standings, and then at 9:15 the game would come on with Joe Crysdale’s great voice, with his “grass cutting ground balls”, the fouls back into the screen accompanied with the “who-o-o-p!” from the crowd as the ball coursed back down to the field, since the screen attached from the backstop right up to the stadium roof. I’d fall asleep night after night listening to the doings of Loren Babe, Mike Goliat, Ed Stevens, Sam Jethroe, Archie Wilson, Jack Crimian, Elston Howard, Carl Sawatski, Rocky Nelson, and many other names to conjure with.

    I grew up in present day Durham so trips to the Stadium were not that frequent. The first I recall was to see the Ottawa Athletics in 1954. They had Luke Easter playing for them. Over the years I saw the Montreal Royals, Buffalo Bisons, Richmond Virginians and the Havana Sugar Kings. That team was very exotic: names like Davalilo, speaking Spanish to one another as they warmed up, and being mostly black, which was a rarity to see in 1950s Toronto. They beat the Leafs on the day I remember seeing them. I do remember their flashy red topped uniforms with the smiling cartoon on the front. So different from the home whites and road greys of the other teams I’d seen.

    I do recall my father announcing once we were going down to watch Satchel Paige pitch. I remember it as a dull game and I think we got shut out by the Marlins. As with a lot of things in life, you don’t really realize the significance of what happened until later and you wish you’d paid more attention.

    The experience of Maple Leaf Stadium was entrancing to me when I was small. The double fenced right field with billboards. The Tip Top Tailors building. The ships going through the Western Gap during play. The dark grey walls of Little Norway over the left field wall. I regret that I never got to walk there before it was torn down. “Little Norway” sounded like a fairy tale name to me. We always seemed to sit a few rows back of the first base bag in seats with rails, and they seem in memory to have been just about the same level as the field itself. As players threw the ball back and forth in pregame they were really close and there wasn’t a lot of foul territory. Maybe memory plays tricks on me about that. I was very young.

    • Fred

      I started following the team in 1951. We were dirt poor and living over a restaurant. The ball team was my friend. Once I got my paper route, I could afford to go the games. But when I wasn’t there, the radio was my only choice. On the away games, the crowd noise was on a tape loop and you would hear the same things over and over. But Joe and Hal Kelly were the best to me. Then the next day, I would go directly to Neil MacCarls story in the Star. Terry mentioned most of my favourites, but I also liked Eddie Blake, Connie Johnson and Don Johnson. I remember going 1 day and Connie Johnson won 3 games. One was the windup of a suspended by curfew game. He started the next game and won. In the next game he came on in relief and won the 3rd one. I used to ask the principal of the school if I could have the opening day off to go and he would say yes, because I was honest about it. Even when I started working, I would ask my boss and he would agree to it too. One opening game that stands out for me was when they beat the other team 24 to 3 or something. Ellis Burton hit 2 grand slams. 1 lefthanded and 1 right handed. The origin of Little Norway was started because the area was temporarily declared Norse during WW2 and they kept their air force there. I recall the first time Havana played in Toronto, it was early April. I was sitting in the bullpen area and it started to snow. They were so happy to see snow for the first time. The more I read here, the more I remember.

  • Peter Moroney

    I have a composite team picture of the 1966 IL All-Star team lined up along 3rd Base. Dick Williams was the Mgr. The Leafs were represented by Mike Andrews (2B), Gary Waslewski (P), & Owen Johnson (C). The trainer was Bill Smith, who held the same job with the hockey Leafs. Notables were Bobby Murcer, a 20 yr old SS with Toledo & Lee May, 1B with Buffalo. Steve Demeter, a memorable Leaf in prior seasons, was 3b with Rochester. Boston beat the Stars 8-4. Joe Foy was a rookie with them, having starred with the Leafs in ’65. I also have a picture of the late Tony Conigliaro @ the plate. I, too, have four seats from the Stadium, which were among the 1000 used @ Lakeshore Arena from 1968-1993.

  • Barbara

    Had to send you a note to say Congratulations on this historical piece on the Toronto Maple Leafs! It’s wonderful!! Would love to see this info tied in with the Toronto Maple Leafs of today.

  • Alan G

    Wonderful article that brings back fond memories. My father introduced me, a wide-eyed ten year old, to Maple Leaf Stadium in 1963 and Sundays at the ballpark became an event I always looked forward to. Like my father did in his day back in the 40’s, I used to hang outside the dressing room after the games to score a few autographs from the players. I also remember the bat give-away days. Another fond memory was when we were allowed on the field before the game to take pictures of and get autographs from the players. I know I’ve still got them lying around somewhere and now I’m dying to find them. I read on Wikipedia that the last game had an attendance of only 802. Not that I realized the significance of that day then, but I was one of the 802! My father actually took a series of pictures of the demolition of Maple Leaf Stadium, including one taken from a helicopter overlooking what was left of the once proud diamond. I still miss the stadium. It was so much more intimate than the Skydome.

    • Fred

      Yes Maple Leaf Stadium was a great place to watch a ball game. Just had to make sure you weren’t sitting behind a post. But everything was close. Down in the bleachers, you could talk to the bullpen pitchers. It was only a few steps from the street car stop to the ticket window. Mind you, under the seats where the food was served and the washrooms were, it was kind of grungy. Players today would cringe at the sight of the dressing room that was there. But up in the stands, I loved it.

  • AL Hix

    I believe the hitter with the ‘wriggle’ stance was Marv Rickerts not Rocky Nelson

  • Fred

    You are right Al. Rickerts had the wiggle. Nelson had a strange stance too. Almost like pointing his toes to the outfield.

  • E. Hunter

    This was great reading,brought back a lot of great memories, spent most of my youth sitting behind the Leafs ondeck circle ,working the switchboard and anything else that needed doing.Thanks again .oh yes the book Baseballs back in Town is written by Lou Cauz.

  • Raven2122

    Then there was the Simpson’s Booster Club where you could buy a children’s pass for 25 cents and see any game for a dime. And don’t forget Lorne Babe at third and Ed Stevens at first. Two long time Leafs. What a great time and place to watch baseball.

  • grumptime

    I was the bat boy for the Leafs in 1965 and 1965 when the respective managers were Sparky Anderson and Dick Williams.
    One of my main jobs with Sparky was to make sure that lights in the tunnel from the dugout to the clubhouse were turned off when he went out to argue a call so he could continue to manage because we knew he was going to be ejected.
    Dick was very tough and fined Mike Andrews Mike Ryan Joe Foy and me because we were playing with a football in the outfield, he also made sure that I was voted a 1/2 share of the playoff pool when the team won the championship that year.

    • chuck

      does anybody remember harvey trivett the booster club president…..i grew up as a kid in toronto and remember my first game for a buck in 1957 havana a fathers day double header with my dad

      • Clay Marston




  • gary mcconnell


    • chuck

      gary they used a wire service and re constructed the game in the studio

      • Bill B.

        They would use sticks to simulate the crack of the bat.

  • I used to listen to those games when I was 11-12. I believe I learned they had a Telex machine in their studio, and enhansed the tape coming in with sound effects ( crowd roar, bat hitting ball).

  • Bill Armstrong

    My earliest memory of baseball was listening to 590 CKEY in the late 40’s/early 50s. Joe Crysdale and Hal Kelly made the game come alive. My first visit to Maple Leaf Stadium was probably in the early 50s when my Dad would call the long distance operator and ask for LIberty 65611. Sat in the blues, section R3 or R4 opposite 1st base. Fireman Ray Shore, Bobby Rahn, Bobby DelGreco et al.were my heros! Wonderful memories. Thanks for this site.

  • Fred Cummings

    Does anyone remember when Connie Johnson won 3 games in 1 day? He finished a suspended game., then started the first game of a double header, then pitched in relief in the last game and won.

  • Bill

    I was around 9 or 10 years old and my poor Mom worked in the concession stands for the home games. She was a cook at Hart House during the day so it was rough on her working at night as well but as a kid, I was in my glory. Jack Kent Cooke owned the team then and I got to meet him which was no big deal for me. I wanted to watch baseball. The bonus was that I got snacks for free. The way they kept track of things was as follows. Hot dogs were by the bun, soft drinks by the cup and popcorn was by the bag so I’d go to the game with Mom armed with a couple of slices of bread, a cup and a bag. I sat wherever I wanted back then, usually behind the Maple Leafs dugout. I got to go into the dugout and was known to some of the players. One part of the stadium I remember well was the Tip Top Tailors “Hit Sign, Win Suit” billboard. Another highlight was when the Havana Sugar Kings came to town. They’d bring a steel band and it was always a great time then. You could see “Little Norway” over the left-centre field fence by the harbour..
    “Little Norway” was a Training Camp located in Toronto for Norwegian fighter pilots while Norway was occupied by Germany during Second World War.
    I remember some serious betting up in the left field bleachers. Men with fistfuls of money betting on every pitch. Ball, strike, hit etc.
    I have an autographed baseball buried somewhere in my house and after seeing this article will have to look for it.
    Thanks for the memories.

    • Bill

      Actually there was a small hole in the Tip Top sign and you had to hit the ball through the whole to win a suit. Wonder if they ever had to give a suit away?

  • Richard Simpley

    Any Information on Frank Gilhooley?

  • mikegoliat

    Just found this site…wonderful! And what memories.Obviously,Mike Goliat was my hero,he of awesome power,and a grunt with each swing. From my first game in 1953 to about 1963 I lusted over this team.The park,built in 1926, was the transitional home of some great players from various teams.I saw Satchel Page, Lasorda , Drysdale, McCarver, Howard,Broglio, and many others who had distinguished Major League careers. I also became a collector of hundreds of items from that era…the championship banners of 1926,1957,and 1960. Programs,photos, seats, and much more. It was a sad day when the team was no more…yet the echoes and visions of the fans and players often ring sentimental notes for me. Jethroe, Morton, Nelson,Anderson, little Fritzi Brickell, Howard, and dozens of others who earned little money,yet gave their spirit to the best sport in the world…the only game not governed by time. A special mention to an old buddy from that era, George Gamester who shared many trips down to the park from Weston. We seldom had a glove or bat out of sight as we lived the boys of summer. I will cherish these memories forever!

    • Bill

      Mike Goliat is one of the players on my autographed ball. It also has Lew Morton on it. The outfield in my time was Archie Wilson, (usually his wife was at the game all dolled up), Sam Jethroe and Lew Morton.

      • kenwest

        Right. I was sitting behind a few rows back and to the left of the 3rd-base dugout for an evening game. Archie would chat up his friends, and yes, his blond wife, every time he went out to left field.

    • Bill

      Wish there were more entries. Love reading about this. Brings back so many memories.

  • kenwest

    What a great website. I found it because I was looking for stuff about Lew Morton, so it was great to find a reference to him and his “special day”. I was there on that special day, and because of an essay in today’s Globe and Mail (18 July 2014) I wrote back to the Globe.
    Here is my letter, perhaps of interest to others. Anyone else there that day?

    Thanks to reader Cornell for his essay, “A baseball for Garth”, in which he
    was coerced to give up a ball he caught at a Red Sox spring training game,
    and thanks for the reference to the old Toronto Maple Leaf Stadium where he
    went with his dad.

    I have my own story, from that stadium, a story like Cornell’s.
    1958 was the last year for the very popular right fielder for the Maple
    Leafs, Lew Morton. He was so popular that they had an appreciation day for
    him near the end of the season. One of the gimmicks of the day was that for
    every ball that was thrown back from the stands, Lou would get the princely
    sum of one dollar. (In those days, I believe a new baseball cost three
    dollars.) When a ball got thrown back, the crowd of about 16,000 would
    Sure enough, that day was the one and only time that I caught a ball hit
    into the stands. It was easier than it sounds — we were in about the 20th
    row, and the foul ball was at the top of its arc. I was so surprised and
    thrilled with my achievement that I started staring at it in admiration, and
    in doing so caused the crowd to ignore the game and to shout “throw it back,
    throw it back!) So here’s a young kid who just did something special, but
    with 16,000 people shouting at him like he was a thief. The grizzled guy
    next to me was my sole supporter — “Keep it, Keep it, Morton doesn’t need
    the money”. But the crowd was relentless and ultimately I gave up and
    threw it back, taking some solace at my ability to get it back on the field
    without hitting someone in the front rows, not to mention the smattering of
    reluctant applause.

    The Leafs got their ball back, but in less than a decade they were gone.
    Lew got his dollar, but never got to the majors. I’m sure he would have
    had it the other way.
    I don’t have the ball. The stadium is only a memory.
    But at least I have the story.

    • Bill

      Not there but loved your letter!

    • Sideshow Bob

      Wonderful memories of the old stadium. Great players – Lou Johnson, Lou Jackson, Sparky, Mack Jones, Rico Carty. Elston Howard, what a star.

    • Leo

      I too was there on “Lew Morton” day. I was sitting just two rows behind Jack Kent Cooke. I also caught a ball hit into the stands and I also was yelled at to throw the ball back. I ignored the crowd and kept it. To this day, that is the only ball I have ever caught that was hit into the stands. Sorry Lew. If I had known you needed a dollar, I would have thrown a dollar out.
      BTW – The comments about Archie Wilson’s wife are true. Stunning!!

  • mikegoliat

    I will post some photos in the future.

    • Bill


  • Hugh Thomas

    I was there the night Lew Morton fouled off 12 pitches before belting a homer deep over the right field fence. The pitcher was Howie Fox of the Baltimore Orioles. Fox became so angry he threw his glove and you could hear it hit the back wall of the dugout.